By: Pennie Hale – November, 2011
There are so many delicious food temptations at this time of year. Let’s face it it’s going to be a challenge for a lot of us. I personally do not ever dread the holidays because it’s a time for family, celebration and happiness. I look forward to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas every year because of all the gatherings and fun events. I love spending time with my children and grandchild and making this time of year memorable for them.
As a child I remember Halloween as a time with friends. We would dress up, go out right after dinner and not return home until our candy bags were too heavy to carry. I took great pleasure in going through everything, sorting all the different sizes and varieties of treats and finding the best hiding spot in our house so that my brothers wouldn’t raid my stash. Thanksgiving was a time when everyone was in our home, helping with the cooking, enjoying each other’s company, picking at appetizers for hours and then sitting together at one large table to enjoy a home-cooked meal. I always pretended that I was a waitress. I would take everyone’s dessert orders and deliver them to their place in the living room. My grandmother would always put a dollar in my pocket as my tip. Christmas was a time of transformation. Our house always looked particularly light and special.
I don’t know if it was the lights on the Christmas tree, the plug-in candles in the windows or just that everyone was in the holiday spirit. On Christmas day, we always sang Happy Birthday to Jesus – a tradition I believe I may have started and one that I carried on in my own home with my kids. The food at Christmas was much like the food at Thanksgiving. However, with all the decorations and the beautiful red tablecloth, everything seemed to taste better.
Now as an adult, I think back to what my mother used to say each and every holiday. She would say, “How am I supposed to get through the next couple of months without gaining 50 pounds?” She would make cookies or other treats with us. My brothers and I would eat whatever we wanted. When I was young, I was very active and thin. I had a healthy relationship with food. My mother, however, was like how I became as an adult. She would tell herself to put the items away but she would eat whatever was left over.
Then she would feel like a failure and regret her gluttony. I once asked her, “Mom, why do you always say you’re not hungry and then eat lots of food when no one is looking?” It was an innocent, naïve question but she was not happy with me for noticing what she was doing. I believe I embarrassed her but now I understand what she was doing. She was trying to resist temptation, and then when she wasn’t able to resist, she gave in. She was trying to be a good example for her children but then she gorged on sweets.
Food is a part of many occasions, celebrations and events. Most people enjoy baking, cooking and serving their favorite dishes. My daughters like to bake with me. My son likes to eat. This Halloween was the first year that my son didn’t go Trick or Treating. My youngest daughter did. The day after Halloween, she noticed that “someone” had raided her candy bag. I guess I forgot to tell her to find a good hiding spot!
Pennie Hale is a Methuen resident, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org